Results - Workshop on Common dolphin


Oceanomare Delphis Onlus – not for profit organisation since 1998 for the study and conservation of cetaceans in the Mediterranean Sea - together with the Biological Conservation Research Foundation (BICREF, Malta) and OceanCare (Switzerland) - promoted the 1st International Workshop on Common dolphin in the Mediterranean.  

The Workshop aimed at promoting a greater participation to the international dialogue and knowledge exchange on the Common dolphin in the Mediterreanan Sea, with a view to integrate the different scientific efforts and find new mechanism to strenghten the cooperation for the knowledge and conservation of the species, at local, national and international level.

Thanks to the contribution of the major academic institutions, associations and research groups in Italy, Algeria, France, Greece, Israel, Lybia, Malta, Great Britain, Slovenia, Switzerland, Tunisia and Turkey, the Workshop has tried and assess the current status and the potential trend of Delphinus Delphis in the Mediterranean Sea, underlining the numerous knowledge gaps currently in place in the Area (i.e. there are no information on more pelagic areas). In particular, a need for the following has been identified:

  • standardise the abundance evalutations on local groups, in order to compare the different study areas; 
  • implement predictive models of presence and distribution using sighting/effort data as well as other factors such as depth, slope, surface temperature, etc;
  • standardise photoidentification procedures;
  • implement acoustical studies;
  • assess and measure interactions with human activities;
  • determine, where possible, the causes of death of stranded individuals (pollutants, bycatch, etc..);
  • strengthen the research effort in the Countries of the South Mediterrenean.



The Organisational Committee: from left Daniela Silvia Pace, Silvia Frey, Barbara Mussi, Adriana Vella

Through sharing scientific and methodological information amongst the different research groups, during the Workshop it was also started the revision process of what assessed by IUCN Red List, in order to obtain an updated overview of the distribution and the major threats faced by the species.

The Workshop has clearly confirmed that the common dolphin in the investigated areas in the Mediterranean is declining. Data presented by the researchers - who have been studying the species for decades in crucial areas such as the Alboran Sea and the waters of the Ionic Greece (Kalamos), the Strait of Corynth and the Ischia Island - have shown not only a decline in the number of encounters (considering a comparable research effort), but also the decrease of the number of individuals in the catalogues, while the genetic studies have highlighted a higher degree of isolation of different groups within the Mediterranean Sea.

The issues faced by the species are all related to anthropogenic factors: temperature increase in the Mediterranean Sea, general and targeted speacies overfishing, different sources of disturbance (i.e. naval traffic, noise pollution), interaction with fishing and by-catch, to name a few.

Italy resulted in a key Country for its networking capability. The active cooperation amongst Italian researchers coordinated by Oceanomare Delphis Onlus within the Cetacean Working Group of SIBM (Mediterranean Marine Biology 22: 262-263) has demonstrated the potential of networking and data sharing, allowing for example the identification of areas potentially significant for the common dolphin that hadn't been studied in the past (North-West Sardinia and Messina Strait). 

Within the Italian network it was also possible to analyse over 20.000 images gathered during field work, to photo-identify 293 individuals and follow the movements of some of them in different study areas.

 The Workshop has represented an opportunity to define a shared platform to launch new collaborations, activities and projects and has facilitated the spontaneus constitution of the Common Dolphin Working Group (CDWG) for the knowledge and conservation of the species in the Mediterranean. Priority of the CDWG is to continue to work on the assessment of the conservation of the species following the IUCN Red List criteria, and contribute - through research and collective work - to a greater knowledge of the species to design the necessary management actions and conservation stratefies and to share with the public the problems and threats that the species continue to face.

The results of the Workshop proceedings will be published, following the standard process of peer review, in a special edition of the scientific journal Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems.

Common Dolphin Working Group, 1st International Workshop, Ischia Island13-15 April 2016



The Workshop has received the patronage and the support of numerous institutions, research centres and partners. To all of them, to the staff of Oceanomare Delphis and to the Editor of the Aquatic Conservation, goes our most heartfelt thank you.

• IUCN (Species Survival Commission) 
• CSM (Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species)
• Italian Environment Ministry
• Italian Society of Marine Biology
• University of Rome "La Sapienza"
• University of Malta
• University of Naples Federico II
• University of Naples Parthenope
• Anton Dohrn Zoological Statio
• British Embassy Rome
• UK Science Innovation Nework
• Human Society International
• World Cetacean Alliance
• Italian Coastguards
• Marine Protected Area “Regno di Nettuno”
• Campania Region
• Tourism Board of Ischia e Procida
• Municipalities of Casamicciola Terme e Lacco Ameno
• Union of Young Chartered Accountants of Naples
• Amici di Riccardo Domenici
• Giardini Poseidon
• Negombo
• Albergo della Regina Isabella